Best known for their superb interpretation of the six Bartok string quartets, the Takcs quartet has delivered a strong performance in their recently released CD of Schubert”s String Quartet in G major, D887 and Adagio for piano trio, D897 “Notturno.” Since receiving a Grammy nomination for their recordings of the Trout String Quartet, the release of another Schubert CD by the Taks Quartet has been long awaited by the classical music world this CD does not disappoint.
The Takcs quartet was formed in Budapest in 1975, and has always drawn from its Eastern European roots a playing style that is impassioned and direct: They play from the soul. Their performance on this CD is no exception and bursts (from all the boundaries of itself) with these emotive aspects. With the wrong performers, Schubert chamber music easily slides from delightful and charming to dry and mind numbing. The Takcs quartet gracefully avoids this pitfall with great attention to detail in the music, but also by a performance that is convincingly dramatic without becoming ridiculous or inane.
The delicately tender opening of the Notturno is something felt in one”s gut rather then simply one”s ear. From the very opening of the piece, a spell is cast that renders the audience powerless to resist. The attention to phrasing and communication between the players is palpable and flawless, culminating in a performance both moving and precise.
With such sublime and superb abilities in both the performance and interpretation, it is a shame that Schubert was recoded with such a wet sound. The acoustic space of the recording becomes too gelatinous for one to hear the subtleties in performance that give the Takcs quartet its powerhouse reputation. For those of more plebian tastes, this recording blunder should pose no problem and, for those unfamiliar with classical recordings, the CD certainly stands on its didactic abilities encouraging future, more in-depth listenings of Schubert works.
Though significantly stellar, Schubert fails to indicate any significant development in the Takcs quartet”s growth. It is a flawlessly performed rendition of the Schubert chamber music, but I would hope that soon this quartet moves toward more contemporary composers instead of riding the wave of previous successes. Having already commissioned and performed a work by McArthur Award-winning genius Bright Sheng, we can only hope that the most talented Takcs quartet brings their emotional integrity and shear power to music that is of our own time.